Priit Mihkelson At SBG Portland
There are thousands of different scenarios that can arise in an art as complex and nuanced as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and, I don’t doubt, many different ways to try and teach each one. With so much available to learn, it is easy to fall into some pretty fatal traps. In some cases, in an attempt to cover every technique available, each one is demonstrated in a flurried plethora for each position. This is an obviously flawed way of trying to learn, at least at a white belt level, and leaves students attempting to hold on to scraps of knowledge where they can. It is an approach that will likely never allow students to ever fully understand even the most basic postures and techniques. With that in mind, perhaps an attempt to focus the learning to just a handful of specially chosen techniques is the answer. Again, this has its issues, as while a better grasp of the chosen techniques is likely, it could potentially hinder the creativity that allows students to develop their own game. It can leave all students relying on the same strengths, and leave them with the same weaknesses.
So what is the answer? As is often mentioned on this blog, and throughout the SBGi universe, the first step is to focus on the fundamentals. A firm grasp of the essential postures and pressures in BJJ will stand any student in good stead. But what of the rest? Priit Mihkelson, an SBG black belt, has been revolutionizing the way BJJ is taught. He is innovating new approaches to both what those BJJ ‘fundamentals’ are, and how students can build on these foundations to develop their own unique style.
Priit Mihkelson has been long-known in SBG circles. One of SBG founder Matt Thornton’s black belts, he has been with SBG for over twelve years and has been coaching BJJ full time for many of those. He has a no-nonsense scientific approach that fits perfectly with the SBG philosophy, as he trims away the fat of what is deemed necessary to good, fundamental jiu jitsu. On top of this, his teaching style gives students the chance to experiment and play with techniques that stem from the raw fundamentals he teaches.
Essentially, his approach seeks to answer both of the above problems. Indeed, with BJJ fundamentals broken down to postures as simple as his now legendary ‘grilled chicken’ guard, there is ample time to work from his so-called ‘zero points’ (using SBG’s Aliveness approach of drilling against increased resistance) to more advanced positions. A solid understanding of such distilled, simplistic ideas allows students the time and freedom to experiment in the knowledge that they are working from a solid base. This experimentation is supported by his allotting of time for students to provide feedback to one another after each drill, identifying areas that both their partner and they can improve. This encourages a higher level of self-examination and highlights the need to be a good and active training partner who can both teach and learn on both sides of the drill.
Priit Mihkelson has been touring SBG gyms across the world, providing seminars demonstrating his approach. His seminars bring high praise, with even fellow black belts coming away with their mind’s blow and both their own BJJ and teaching approaches changed for the better. His seminars have been called ‘an amazing weekend of mind-blowing jiu jitsu’ and his grilled-chicken guard ‘a fundamentally sound way of playing guard that allows you to discover how YOU were meant to play guard (whether white or black belt)’. Of Priit Mihkelson himself, ‘Priit is a master coach. If you want to see what great coaching looks like take a class from Priit. His way of leading a class through drills and feedback is some of the best coaching I’ve had the pleasure of receiving in any arena’.
Priit Mihkelson’s style of teaching transcends belt level and allows all students to learn and develop their own game around a strong core of sound, fundamental jiu jitsu. Look out for him in upcoming seminars…